Veterinarian Vs. Dentist: Salary & Job Description

Sep 02, 2022

Comparing Veterinarians to Dentists

Veterinarians and dentists are both healthcare professionals. They both need to earn a doctoral degree in their field and be licensed. In spite of the comparable training requirements, dentists earn notably higher salaries.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2021)* Job Outlook (2020-2030)*
Veterinarians Doctoral degree, license $100,370 17%
Dentists Doctoral degree, license $163,220 8%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Veterinarians vs. Dentists

One of the key distinctions between veterinarians and dentists is that veterinarians treat animals while dentists are responsible for treating people. Veterinarians may address any type of medical issue affecting their patients while dentists exclusively focus on dental health issues, such as cavities or gum disease. Both may prescribe medication for their patients. Veterinarians and dentists may both examine their patients and use tests to diagnose their condition. Veterinarians are qualified to perform surgeries on animals while patients requiring dental surgery are normally referred to specialists. Both veterinarians and dentists may be responsible for supervising other staff.


Most veterinarians work for a veterinary clinic, hospital or office. Those who treat pets such as dogs and cats typically work indoors, while veterinarians that treat livestock and farm animals may travel and be required to work outdoors or in barns. Overtime is common and veterinarians may also spend part of their time on call. It's also common for them to work some evening and weekend shifts. Veterinarians need to be comfortable working with animals in order to treat them effectively. They also need good communication skills for explaining medical issues to the animals' owners.

Job responsibilities of a veterinarian include:

  • Evaluating patients
  • Providing healthcare advise to owners
  • Vaccinating animals
  • Assigning tasks to veterinary technicians
  • Taking X-rays
  • Operating on animals


Dentists typically work indoors in dental offices. Many have their own practice and these dentists may be responsible for administrative responsibilities in addition to treating patients. The primary focus of a dentist's work is to provide medical care to patients with dental problems. Dentists who wish to advance in their career can opt to complete a residency in a specialization. Dentists need to have strong interpersonal skills and communication skills because their work involves explaining issues to patients and performing procedures in the patient's mouth.

Job responsibilities of a dentist include:

  • Supervising dental assistants
  • Educating patients about how to care for their teeth and gums
  • Giving patients anesthesia
  • Removing teeth
  • Referring patients to specialists
  • Explaining treatment options to patients

Related Careers

Veterinarians are trained to treat a number of illnesses affecting animals and those that are interested in practicing medicine on people may want to consider a career as a family doctor. If becoming a dentist sounds interesting then a career as an oral surgeon may be appealing because oral surgeons also treat issues related to a patient's mouth and teeth.

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